Australian entrepreneurs are key players in Australia’s future as the country reaches a tipping point.
The mining boom is over and traditional manufacturing is in decline, which means attention has now turned to our small business professional services sector as they fast become Australia’s great economic hope in terms of productivity and employment.
We must all recognise the value that entrepreneurship is bringing to our nation.
That said it takes a lot of hard work to get a business up and running.
There can be many fears associated with launching into the unknown but being a small business owner can provide the flexibility and autonomy many Australians crave in their lives.
That’s why in March of this year, Servcorp undertook an independent study titled What’s Holding You Back? We wanted to understand the impact that fear and doubt plays on the minds of those wanting to set up their own business. Equally, we wanted to encourage people to embrace the fear and channel it into making their dream a successful reality.
There are no wrongs or rights when it comes to starting out—let’s not forget that mistakes are all part of the learning process—but in the essence of getting off the ground, here are four pointers for people looking to start and nurture a successful business.
1. Spend money to save money
People need the right financial support to get off the ground yet many don’t have the cash flow required to start their own business.
In fact, over four out of 10 (42 per cent) people in our study revealed that cash was their biggest fear and a prominent barrier to them leaving the business starting block.
Yet the time is right for small business owners to make the leap.
The Government’s Budget $5.5 billion windfall offers small businesses generous tax breaks that put them in a stronger financial position.
Tax deductions on individual assets of up to $20,000 and the removal of Fringe Benefits Tax from electronic devices next year is great news for business owners looking to free up capital while taking their business forward.
Enlisting flexible employees who can provide support may help reduce overheads in the long run and when it comes to facilities, it can sometimes work out more cost-effective to rent office space, furniture or expensive IT equipment such as printers.
Making the most of financial opportunities like these provide a longer term return on investment so that money doesn’t have to be the sole concern when it comes to growing your business.
2. Understand your drivers
You’ve got the idea, enthusiasm and the funding. Now it’s important that you understand exactly what you want from your small business.
With the help of cloud technology and an increased level of mobility in working environments, creating a flexible work-life balance has become a critical driver for many when it comes to starting their own small business.
Our study found that women tend to be quicker in moving to start up their own business, with 41 per cent setting it up within six months of having the idea compared to only 28 per cent of men. They are more likely to be looking for a better work-life balance (42 per cent).
By understanding your priorities and what’s important to you, you can build a strong business plan that will help you remain focused on why you are pursuing your small business dream.
3. The customer always comes first
Most importantly, understand your customers; who they are, what they want and how you are going to build their loyalty. They’re the heart of your business and the key to its long-term success.
A small business isn’t just a personal journey; a solid customer base makes or breaks a business and the customer care that small businesses provides is what sets them apart.
From our research we found that the majority of small business owners and managers (93 per cent) believe they have a competitive advantage over larger businesses.
The key areas of advantage are having people who really care about doing a good job for their clients (66 per cent) and being able to offer better customer service (65 per cent).
Of course it’s important to think about all the different elements that make up a business—the people, office space, furniture, IT resources and the list can go on; but it’s important to always have the customer as your number one priority.
It’s also important to remember that customer retention is heavily dependent on customer service, and the response rate to customer queries.
According to a separate study conducted by Salesforce, more than half (68 per cent) of customers choose another business because of poor customer service.
The longer you take to respond to a customer and the more hurdles they face, the more likely they are to go elsewhere, which normally means a direct competitor.
The ability to offer local staff through an organisation such as Servcorp allows you to respond immediately and demonstrates your on-the-ground presence in a local market – helping you deliver superior customer service that will help your business be one step ahead.
4. Be brave and take the leap
It is often the overlooked emotional aspect of deciding to set up a small business that has the greatest ability to derail the most determined entrepreneur from moving forward with their business plans.
Our study affirms that the fear felt when making the leap to business ownership is very real. It primarily relates to concerns about money (37 per cent) and leaving a secure job (33 per cent). Others are hesitant because of the fear of failure (19 per cent) or perceived lack of expertise (15 per cent).
Fear tends to hold people back and often you make excuses for why you can’t or shouldn’t move forward with your business idea. If you over-think it, you won’t do it.
Instead, why not harness that fear to propel you forward; be brave, think smart and remain optimistic. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?
Marcus Moufarrige is the COO of Servcorp, which offers a range of supportive solutions for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Servcorp can take your business to the next level by giving you a real-world business advantage through instant access to a premium address, superior IT and professional support staff with complete control and visibility.